Wednesday, June 26, 2002


by Mark Mayfield

The secret to a happy marriage:
avoid apricot cobbler

Okay, fellas, it's time to gather around the ol' newspaper for another of Mark's Valuable Tips for Maintaining Domestic Tranquility. Of course, if you're reading this column on the Internet, you should gather around the ol' computer monitor. And if you're a psychic who's reading this column directly from my mind, you should STOP IT IMMEDIATELY because you're really giving me the creeps!
Anyway, here's today's wise advice: Never, ever make apricot cobbler with your wife or girlfriend. I realize that by including the word "girlfriend" in my wise advice, I'm offending readers who are disgusted by the risky behavior of many young singles who casually hop from kitchen to kitchen, eagerly engaging in premarital cooking activities with members of the opposite sex. However, I also realize that such behavior has been common since young singles were invented back in the early 1980's, and that all kids occasionally do stupid things in the kitchen. Heck, even I have a few skeletons in my pantry.
On a cold February night many years ago, before my wife and I were married, we got a little carried away in her kitchen. Her parents weren't home at the time, and we were just standing by the oven, drinking hot chocolate and engaging in innocent small talk. Suddenly, she reached out and playfully caressed a bottle of vanilla extract. Smiling nervously, I opened a cupboard and tenderly rested my hand on a 5-pound bag of flour. She seductively tossed back her beautiful hair and lovingly removed a stick of butter from the refrigerator. I awkwardly fondled the baking powder. Giggling like nervous school kids, we both reached for the brown sugar. My fingers brushed against hers. She then placed a large mixing bowl on the counter, looked longingly into my eyes and suggestively whispered, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" Overcome with desire, I replied, "Oh, yes, baby! I want to make chocolate-chip cookies with you!"
Unable to control ourselves, we frantically ripped open the bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and breathlessly groped for measuring cups. What followed was more than an hour of the best premarital cooking I've ever experienced. Of course, I'm not proud of my behavior on that long-ago winter night, but I shared the story to make this point: Although we made a terrible mistake, my wife and I are now happily married, and we still enjoy making chocolate-chip cookies together on a regular basis.
But apricot cobbler isn't like chocolate-chip cookies. It isn't naughty, dangerous or exciting. It's too wholesome to arouse uncontrollable feelings of passionate desire. Instead, it can cause serious problems in the kitchen. To prove my point, I will now share another personal experience.
Thanks to an unusually generous crop from our two apricot trees, my family recently had more apricots than we knew what to do with. (In previous years, greedy fruit-eating birds ruined the apricots before I had a chance to harvest them. But this year, I fooled the birds by posting a sign that says, "Attention, Birds! Please eat these apricots, because they contain a powerful muscle relaxant that will temporarily eliminate your ability to fly, making you easy prey for hundreds of bird-eating cats that patrol this area.")
My wife suggested using some of the apricots to make cobbler, but our only recipe book, "325 Timesaving Wiener Recipes For Busy Families," doesn't include desserts. Fortunately, the Internet does include desserts, and a quick search for "apricot cobbler" produced dozens of recipes. (Warning: Before using any search engine, activate the "offensive content" filter. If you don't, your search results may include several pornographic apricot cobbler websites.)
After choosing a relatively simple recipe, we began our first attempt at making apricot cobbler. Despite my good intentions, the endeavor quickly turned ugly. As I playfully washed and fondled the apricots, my wife told me to "Stop fooling around!" After I seductively tossed back my beautiful hair and lovingly removed a stick of butter from the refrigerator, she impatiently grabbed it from my hand and said, "Hurry up!" As I tenderly mixed the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg topping, she asked, "Why are you acting so weird?" Finally, when I looked longingly into her eyes and suggestively asked, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" she replied, "Yes! Get out of the kitchen so I finish making the apricot cobbler!"
That's when I came up with today's Valuable Tip for Maintaining Domestic Tranquility.

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